Alone Like a Rolling Stone

So far so good

In the meantime we have reached the southeast trade wind. Even if it initially comes more from the south, we are still quite happy that the wind has now adjusted and brings us, now finally, forward. By the way, this was at 5° southern latitude. However, this trade wind is still interspersed with a lot of squalls. The wind is therefore gusty and often oscillates back and forth. Most importantly, there is no flowing wave. The swell is often overlapped by a wind wave and creates unpleasant cross seas. This makes life on the Katinka difficult. Constantly something rattles in the shabs, or falls loudly to the bottom. Very often you can only move on all fours. Not to mention the sailing maneuvers, which are increasingly difficult to perform in such conditions. Fortunately, for the first three days, in the trade winds, we do not have to change the position of the sails. So we have enough time to adjust to the new situation. We do so, even though it is not easy.

Katinka under sail

The wall behind me looks threatening. The lower half consists of salt water, the upper half of fresh water. The lower half is a wave, by now, two meters high. It is building up in the stern. While we are in the trough of the wave, it stands far above us. Eventually, the wave takes up the entire field of view, and if I didn't know it from countless identical situations, I would now have to fear that it would pour into the cockpit. Just before it reaches our boat, we are lifted and the wave rolls under us. With a wave frequency of eight seconds, this happens about 10,000 times a day. After the wave has lifted us out of the valley and back up again, the view to the rear becomes clear again. But the sight is just as disturbing. A black and gray wall comes closer and closer. At first, the wind gets stronger and the wave gets smaller. The water surface changes color and the water ripples. The black-gray wall has now taken over the entire field of vision. The first raindrops clack on the roof, at first sporadically, later forming a drumfire. The squall reaches us and Katinka picks up speed. The water rushes out aft under the bridge deck, deafening our ears. The anemometer shows 20 knots, Katinka has accelerated to eight knots. The sea is suddenly completely flat. The raindrops hit the surface of the sea and bring the water to a boil. The boat pulls, whirring, its course, in this unreal world. Hades opens its gates and it becomes dark. As if Katinka wants to say, "No, not today," she adds another bump and surfs, at 9.5 knots, toward the light, at least the bright spot ahead in the wall of fog. I stand at the helm, by now dripping wet. Not that I intervene in any way, the autopilot does its thing reliably, but for safety's sake, you never know. After a quarter of an hour, Hades closes the gates again, in the knowledge that he has lost today. The curtain opens and the first rays of sunlight are visible again. Suddenly the wind is gone, and the pressure out of the sails. What remains is a choppy sea that rocks us quite a bit until the next squall, or until the southeast trade wind provides reasonably calm conditions again. But somehow the trade wind of these days does not manage to create calm conditions and so we rock more than we sail, towards our destination, the Gambier Islands.
The 31st day is now approached, on a journey through nowhere. For seven days we have not seen a ship. Even the AIS doesn't show anything anymore. I wonder if it still works at all. Even the polar regions should have more public traffic than the region we are in right now, due to the many expeditions. If the view is free I look for condensation trails in the sky, which betray a passing airplane. But even here, absolutely no sign. Here the terms loneliness, wilderness, freedom, get a whole new meaning. A meaning, when you become aware of them, is scary at first. But you really get used to everything and so we learned to deal with the situation. Even Gaby, who is often plagued by seasickness, copes well with the rough conditions. And so we hobble along on our huge potato field towards the southwest, ever closer to our destination. But now I have to stop, because we are approaching a new intermediate goal. We are reaching 2000 miles. That's about half the distance to the Gambier Islands; and! we celebrate. For this the skipper will drink the second wheat beer on this trip. In this sense, always fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip. Cheers!